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I'm stuck in the middle with my parents and children!

This is often the situation we are faced with when we walk into a client meeting. An exhausted 40 or 50 something who is pulled and pushed between their parents and children. These guys are also known as the sandwich generation and often feel as if they don't know where to turn.

As we age, we find the burdens of family life increasing and our ability to cope decreasing. There are only a certain number of hours in the day and in addition to children and parents people have to work, maintain a house and a life. So, what are we to do to avoid exhaustion and spreading ourselves too thin?

Many of us have an ageing parent or grandparent who refuses to accept help from anyone other than us. They will not have "help at home" or do anything that takes away their independence. Stubbornness is sometimes not helpful, even if it is what keeps them going! In these circumstances it is about talking and gently introducing change. Any change that is made needs to be slowly and must not deviate too far from what that parent or grandparent is used to. Find someone to help who shares common interests, if you are trying to employ the services of care at home. Take the carer with you when you visit so they can have a cup of tea and a chat whilst you are busy reducing list of things to do. Overtime a relationship will build and then you will wonder how you ever managed without them. Try to get a regime of support in place to ensure that you can rely on those people who make up part of the "team" who are looking after mum or dad, that way you will know who is where an when and who is doing what and when. It will also help your parents to feel more secure in what is going on.

It is important to share the burden with other family members. Do not take everything on your shoulders. Split roles if you are able to between you and your siblings. Can one of you deal with daily visits to the house, another medical appointments and a third financial matters? Are there grandchildren who are of an age that would happily spend time with their grandparent to give you a break. It is surprising how much the younger generation can cheer and revitalise and older relation.

Seek professional support and assistance as it can make your life a lot easier. Are your parents, grandparents on the correct benefits? Are their finances working as well as they can for the? Do they have lasting powers of attorney for support and assistance with their financial affairs and health and welfare? Use the services of the local authority adult social care team to assess their needs for support and assistance at home. Make use of kit and equipment that is out there as this can help with tracking movements, watching out for falls and can provide an emergency call facility in the event of an accident.

It is not just one thing that will help to ease the worry of ageing parents. It is a combination of tools that you have in your armoury that work together and compliment each other which result in success.

It is also important that you get the support you need not just your parent or grandparent. You are the forgotten person in this situation. The carer, the child, the parent, the organiser, the authoritarian, the source of anger and frustration. .You are also entitled to help and support to ensure that you do not go under.

There are far too many things to put in writing that could help and support. What we can offer is an ear to listen and advise. Our life support team at Argo are experienced in supporting families who find themselves in this exact situation; overworked, underpaid and at the end of their tether. We are always able to help whether it is claiming benefits, arranging care or managing financial matters. We are only ever a telephone call away.


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